In 2019 we developed a curriculum about social justice that was based around children’s books and videos accompanied by discussion questions and activities. It works through three “big ideas” around racial justice:
- Diversity is part of God’s plan for humanity
- Injustice is the result of sin
- We can join with God in the work of justice and reconciliation.
We have listed our primary resources below, along with some additional resources that became available and particularly applicable in 2020.
A note on using these resources: Reading books with children is an excellent way to introduce hard topics and begin a conversation. Since many of these books are often sold-out, we have included videos of read-alouds. However, we still encourage families to watch these together so you can be on the same page and have a discussion about them.
This is not a comprehensive list and no single resource is perfect - each has its own viewpoint and purpose. We recommend previewing the resources before showing them to kids so you are comfortable with the content and prepared to engage in it. Ultimately you know your family best and what it means for you all to follow Jesus, in your heart and in your actions, faithfully.
Big idea #1: Diversity is part of God's plan for humanity. God designed diversity in creation, in the formation of the church, and it is essential to the Kingdom of Heaven. We are all made in the image of God, and we are one body in Christ.
- We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates. Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it's our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. General, ages 2-5. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Simple story with message of diversity, forgiveness, and unity. Faith-based, ages 3-6. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Colors of Us by Karen Katz. Appreciates all different skin colors, with bright and colorful pictures for young audiences. General, ages 3-6. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. Points out similarities and differences among children wherever they are, whoever they are. General, ages 3-6. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- All the Colors We Are / Todos los colores de nuestra piel by Katie Kissinger. This bilingual book offers children a simple, scientifically accurate explanation about how our skin color is determined by our ancestors, the sun, and melanin. General, ages 4-8. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- ColorFull by Dorena Williamson. Instead of being colorblind, we can celebrate all the colors God gave us. Faith-based, ages 5-9. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- God Made Me AND You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity by Shai Linne. Explore God's design for ethnic diversity and challenges readers both parents and children to learn and live out counter-cultural, biblical views, fostering a lifelong celebration of diversity for the glory of God. Faith-based, ages 6-10. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud / Theme song rap / Rap lyrics / Parent note
Big idea #2: Injustice is the result of sin. Sin separates people from God and from each other. Injustice happens at individual levels as well as in systems & institutions, and we need to recognize discrepancies in power and privilege so we can counter them.
- Video: Sesame Street Town Hall (3 parts) CNN news anchors team up with Sesame Street characters and mayors from major cities to talk about Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism. It's in three segments, equalling 45 minutes all together. General, ages 3-6 with parents
- God’s Very Good Idea by Tillia Newbell. Teaches young children how to enjoy being delightfully different yet all part of God's family. Faith-based, ages 6-10. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. Story of school integration in 1960, includes Ruby’s faith. General but with faith themes, ages 5-10. Amazon listing / Video of Read-Aloud (includes discussion questions)
- Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, et al. Follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. General, ages 6-10. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- A Kid’s Book About Racism by Jelani Memory. A clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. General, ages 6-10. Purchase book / Video of read-aloud
- Not My Idea by Anastasia Higgenbottom. A picture book about racism and racial justice, inviting white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it's real, and cultivate justice. General, ages 6-10. This book requires scaffolding from the parents/caregivers, and is most appropriate for families with some familiarity with the concept of white privilege. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Bible Project video: Sin (6 min). Faith-based, ages 8+. The word “sin” is one of the most common bad words in the Bible, but what does it really mean? In this video, we’ll explore the concept of “moral failure” that underlies this important biblical word.
- Bible Project video: Justice (6 min). Faith-based, ages 8+. "Justice" is a felt need in our world today and a controversial topic. But what is justice, exactly, and who gets to define it? Transcript & notes / For further study
- Video: Systemic Racism Explained (4 min). General, ages 8+. Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. Here's a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.
Big idea #3: We can join with God to work for justice and reconciliation. God invites us to be ambassadors of his Kingdom on earth. We can pursue diverse friendships and love our neighbors as ourselves. We can work to break down barriers to justice and seek the good of those who are oppressed.
- The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates. Themes of inclusion, room for everyone. General, ages 3-6. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Peace Is An Offering by Annette LeBox. Join neighborhood children as they find love in everyday things and learn that peace is all around, if you just look for it. General, ages 3-6. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Who Is My Neighbor? by Amy-Jill Levine. A re-telling of the Good Samaritan parable. Faith-based, ages 3-8 Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. A story of friendship across a racial divide. General, ages 6-10. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- The Harmony Tree by Randy Woodley. A story of healing and community. Faith-based, ages 6-10. Amazon listing / Video of read-aloud
- Bible Project video: Heaven & Earth (7 min). Faith-based, ages 8+ What does the Bible really teach about heaven, and what is heaven’s relationship to earth? In this video, we explore the surprising biblical viewpoint that heaven and earth were meant to overlap, and how Jesus is on a mission to bring them together once and for all. Study guide for adults
- Bible Project video: Image of God (6 min). Faith-based, ages 8+. This video traces the idea of humans as co-rulers alongside God, who are commissioned to develop the world and its resources and take it into new horizons. How has this human vocation been compromised by our selfishness and evil, and how did Jesus open up a new way of being human through his life, death, and resurrection? For further study
- Bible Project video: Agape (5 min). Faith-based, ages 8+. The word “love” is more than a feeling - in the New Testament, “love” refers to a way of treating people that was defined by Jesus himself: seeking the well-being of others regardless of their response. Transcript & notes
- Bible Project video: Shalom (4 minutes). Faith-based, ages 8+. "Peace" is an important word in the Bible that refers not only to the absence of conflict but also to the presence of something else. In this video, we'll explore the core meaning of biblical peace and how it all leads to Jesus. Transcript & Notes
Advice for how to talk to your kids about race and racial justice:
Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Talking to Your Kids About Racism (faith-based article from Parent Cue, 2020)
They’re Not Too Young to Talk About Race (chart from The Children’s Community School)
How to Talk to Kids About Race (3 min video from The Atlantic, 2018)
Talking Race with Young Children (20 min audio from NPR, 2019)
How White Parents Can Talk to Their Kids About Race (10 min audio from NPR, June 2020)
Six Ways to Help Your Child Appreciate God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity (faith-based parent note from “God Made Me AND You,” 2018)
Why You Need to Talk About Race with Your Kids (33 min audio, from Parent Cue, 2017: faith-based conversation with Latasha Morrison of Be The Bridge)
While there are many lists out there, we also have a list of articles, books, podcasts, and videos available to help adults engage and respond.